GLEN: How were you able to finally convince Brad to sell?
BECHARA: Brad and I stayed in touch from mid 80's on. I would generally buy things from him on a periodic basis.
GLEN: What kind of stuff did you pick up from him?
BECHARA: Silver-age Marvel, some hero and some pre-hero stuff. I made him really good offers. I would tend to pay twice what Brad perceived the current market value to be. This way he always thought of me when he was ready to sell something.
But I'm not crazy, I would focus on pieces that I felt had upside for the future. In those days you couldn't lose, anything of quality felt undervalued. Some of the things I bought, among many other things, were great Kirby original pages from X-Men 5 including the splash, the complete X-Men 9 story that featured the first cross-over battle of the Avengers vs. X-Men, and a nice X-men 2 page.
GLEN: So he eventually contacted you when it was time to sell because of your track record of purchases?
BECHARA: Not exactly, we played a cat and mouse game over two decades. What I mean is Brad was always a lot higher than what I was willing to pay for the book. In 1990, if the book was worth 20k--Brad wanted 50k. By the time the book was worth 50k, Brad wanted 100k. Years later when it was valued at 100k, Brad wanted 200k--this continued on for quite a while.
GLEN: When did the value of the book catch up enough for you to finally pull the trigger?
BECHARA: It didn't exactly happen like that. In 2001, I was in the middle of completing a deal for the Tony Christopher collection. Tony was famous for having the BEST Kirby collection-- over a thousand Kirby pages--quite a few of them coming directly from Jack Kirby himself after his artwork was returned from Marvel.
With access to so much prime Kirby material, I realized I finally had the kind of trade that would entice Brad to part with the X-Men 1 story at a price I could tolerate. I knew his number one love was Kirby Fantastic Four art. It took a number of key Kirby FF pieces to do the trick. The components of the deal were:
The complete story to Fantastic Four 3 - missing one page, the complete back up story to FF 11, and a good amount of cash.
Given that the FF 3 is the earliest known Fantastic Four story in the market--the issue has a recap of their origin and is the very first time we see the FF in costume--Brad was much more willing to be negotiable. I drove to his house to do the deal in person. I was nervous because Brad was very hard to get a hold of. Many times I had driven to his house just hoping that he would be there. Happily the FF 3 was enough of an inducement for him to keep our appointment. We made the exchange and I finally had the X-Men 1 story in my possession.
BRAD SAVAGE - Holding the FF 3 splash at a recent comic art con
BECHARA: Unfortunately, I had a partner in Greg Manning Auctions when I made the Tony Christopher deal which meant we were also partners on the ownership of the X-Men 1 book too--we had used the FF 3 in trade--part of the TC collection. This also meant that the X-Men 1 book wasn't mine to keep. Greg Manning Auctions and I agreed to move the X-Men 1 story to Kirk Hammett--an avid collector and the legendary lead guitarist for the band Metallica.
BECHARA: Years later, Bill Wheatly, an outside hobby collector saw an opportunity there and was able to purchase the story from Kirk--he broke the book apart, sold the splash, and the majority of the other X-Men 1 pages went to auction at Heritage where they have sold over the past years. It's sad that the book had to be split up--I would have wanted to find a buyer for the X-Men 1 who would have at least kept the pages together.
A huge heartfelt thanks to Bechara for agreeing to this interview. Again he can be reached at http://www.nostalgicinvestments.com or email: email@example.com